On-line Registration: Closed
Held On: Mon 7/20/2015 - Fri 7/24/2015

The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Executive Learning Center (ELC), 6th floor
1705 University Blvd, SPHB 640
Birmingham AL 35233

Lodging Options:
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Birmingham
808 South 20th Street
Birmingham, AL 35205
Phone: (205) 933-9000

Organizing Committee:

David A.David Allison, Ph.D.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Kevin F.Kevin Fontaine, Ph.D.
University of Alabama at Birmingham


The identification of causal relations is fundamental to the science of intervention and prevention. Obesity is a major problem for which much progress in understanding, treatment, and prevention remains to be made. Understanding which social and behavioral factors cause variations in adiposity and which other factors cause variations is vital to producing, evaluating, and selecting among intervention and prevention strategies as well as to understanding obesity’s root causes, requiring input from disciplines including statistics, economics, psychology, epidemiology, mathematics, philosophy, and in some cases behavioral or statistical genetics. The application of these techniques, however, does not involve routine well-known ‘cookbook’ approaches but requires an understanding of underlying principles, so the investigator can tailor approaches to specific and varying situations. The nine-course modules provide rigorous exposure to the key fundamental principles underlying a broad array of techniques and experience in applying those principles and techniques through guided discussion of real examples in obesity research.

  • Agenda

    Schedule of Events: Download PDF

    Time Topic/Speaker Video Topic/Speaker Video
    Monday 7/20/2015
    8:00-8:30 Registration
    8:30-9:00 Welcoming & Introductory remarks – Allison & Fontaine Watch Video
    Module 1: Split Session – Introduction to Obesity OR Introduction to Basic Language, Terms, and Concepts in Statistics and Design.
      Intro to Obesity Intro to Statistics & Design
    9:00-9:45 Intro to Terms and Measurement – W. T. Garvey Watch Video Intro to Statistical Inference (mainly frequentist, with a little Bayesian; covariate and propensity score adjustment, etc.) – David Redden Watch Video
    9:45-10:00 BREAK
    10:00-10:45 Intro to Energy Balance and Laws of Thermodynamics – Diana Thomas & Emily Dhurandhar Watch Video Quantifying Effect and Association Size – Christopher K. Haddock Watch Video
    10:45-11:30 Some Key Answered and Unanswered Questions – Olivia Affuso Watch Video Study Designs and Causal Inference – Chanelle Howe Watch Video
    11:30-12:30 LUNCH
    Time Topic Speaker Video
    Monday 7/20/2015
    Module 2: Conventional Observational Studies: Advantages, Limits, and Best Practices
    12:30-1:15 Advantages Emily Levitan Watch Video
    1:15-2:00 Limits I – Theory: Bias and Confounding Dominik D. Alexander Ph.D., MSPH Watch Video
    2:00- 2:15 BREAK
    2:15-3:00 Limits II – Empirical: Evidence & Cases Studies of Confirmation and Non-Confirmation of Observational Study-Generated Hypotheses Andrew Brown Watch Video
    3:00-4:00 Best Practices – Ethical Use, Hill’s Guidelines, Negative Controls, Meta-Analysis, Public Data Availability, etc. Douglas Weed Watch Video
    4:00-5:00 Moderated Discussion and Wrap-up
    Tuesday 7/21/2015
    Module 3: Randomized Controlled Experiments – I
    9:00-10:00 Theory: Potential Outcomes Dylan Small Watch Video
    10:00-10:45 Methods for Randomization (including cluster randomization, stratified, choice of allocation ratios, adaptive, etc.) Scarlett L. Bellamy Watch Video
    10:45-11:15 Choice of Control Condition based on Hypothesis and Anticipated Claims Kevin Fontaine Watch Video
    11:15-11:30 BREAK
    11:30-12:00 Controlling for Expectancy and Non-Specific Effects Bret Rutherford Watch Video
    12:00-1:00 LUNCH
    Module 4: Randomized Controlled Experiments – II
    1:00-1:45 Power & Sample Size Calculation David Todem Watch Video
    1:45-2:30 Practical Challenges: Measurement Error, Missing Data, Assumption Violations, etc. Diane J. Catellier Watch Video
    2:30-2:45 BREAK
    2:45-3:45 Ethical Issues in RCEs Jonathan Kimmelman Watch Video
    3:45-4:15 Procedural Elements: Trial Registration, Reporting Guidelines Evan Mayo-Wilson Watch Video
    4:15-4:45 Large Simple Trials & Cluster Randomized Trials J Michael Oakes Watch Video
    4:45-5:30 Moderated Discussion and Wrap-up
    Wednesday 7/22/2015
    Module 5: Quasi Experiments
    9:00- 9:15 Quasi-experiments – Their Importance in Evaluating Changes That Occur Brian Elbel Watch Video
    9:15- 10:25 Design & Analysis William R. Shadish Watch Video
    10:25-10:40 BREAK
    10:40-11:15 Ethical Issues May Wang Watch Video
    11:15-12:00 Real-World Case Studies Brian Elbel Watch Video
    12:00-1:00 LUNCH
    Module 6: Natural Experiments
    1:00-1:45 Theory & Concepts Kelli Komro Watch Video
    1:45-2:15 Packet Randomized Experiments David Allison & Greg Pavela Watch Video
    2:15-3:00 Analysis Luke J. Keele Watch Video
    3:00-3:15 BREAK
    3:15-4:00 Practical and Ethical Issues in Accessing Natural Randomization Luke J. Keele Watch Video
    4:00-4:45 Real-World Case Studies Bisakha Sen Watch Video
    4:45-5:30 Moderated Discussion and Wrap-up
    Thursday 7/23/2015
    Module 7: Genetically Informed Designs – Unmeasured Genotype Approaches
    9:00-9:30 Adoption as Pseudo-Random Assignment to Homes and a Special Case of Packet Randomization Kevin Fontaine & Greg Pavela Watch Video
    9:30-10:15 Co-Twin and Sibling Control Designs Matt McGue Watch Video
    10:15-10:30 BREAK
    10:30-11:30 Structural Equation Modeling of Twin and Family Data to Assess Causal Effects Michael C. Neale Watch Video
    11:30-12:00 Study of Behavioral Phenotypes of Obesity in Children: Ethical Considerations Tanja V. Kral Watch Video
    12:00-1:00 LUNCH
    Module 8: Genetically Informed Designs – Measured Genotype Approaches
    1:00-1:30 Linkage and TDT Methods: Special Cases of Packet Randomization and Utility in Testing Fetal Sire Effects David Allison Watch Video
    1:30-2:30 Mendelian Randomization James Dai Watch Video
    2:30-3:15 Methodological issues in Testing for Gene by Environment or Gene by Behavior Interaction Hemant Tiwari Watch Video
    3:15-3:30 BREAK
    3:30-4:15 Social, behavioral, and ethical issues Susan J. Persky Watch Video
    4:15-4:45 Real-World Case Studies - Causal Inference and Counterfactuals in Obesity Research: Obesity and the Gut Microbiome. Andrew C Heath Watch Video
    4:45-5:30 Moderated Discussion and Wrap-up
    Friday 7/24/2015
    Module 9: Mediating and Moderating Variables
    9:00-9:45 Conceptual Models (the mediator moderator distinction, environmental, behavioral, psychological, physiological, and molecular mediators and moderators) Francesca Filbey Watch Video
    9:45-10:30 Testing in General Linear Models Amanda Fairchild Watch Video
    10:30-10:45 BREAK
    10:45-11:30 Testing in Structural Equation Models Michael C. Neale Watch Video
    11:30-12:00 Real-Life Examples & Ethical Issues Jose R. Fernandez Watch Video
    12:00-1:00 LUNCH
    Module 10: Group Roundtable Preparation, Presentation & Discussion
    1:00 - 3:00 Group Roundtable Preparation
    3:00-5:00 5 Roundtable Groups Presentations (10 minutes each) Followed by Discussion
    5:00-5:10 Closing Remarks David Allison & Kevin Fontaine  
  • Speakers
    • Dominik Alexander Ph.D. - EpidStat Institute
    • Scarlett Bellamy ScD - University of Pennsylvania
    • Diane Catellier Ph.D. - RTI International
    • James Dai Ph.D. - Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
    • Brian Elbel Ph.D. - NYU
    • Francesca Filbey Ph.D. - University of Texas at Dallas
    • Amanda Fairchild Ph.D. - University of South Carolina
    • Christopher K. Haddock Ph.D. - HOPE Health Research Institute
    • Andrew C Heath DPhil - Washington University in St. Louis
    • Chanelle J. Howe Ph.D. - Brown University
    • Luke Keele Ph.D. - Penn State University
    • Jonathan Kimmelman Ph.D. - McGill University
    • Kelli Komro Ph.D. - University of Florida
    • Tanja V. E. Kral Ph.D. - University of Pennsylvania
    • Evan Mayo-Wilson DPhil - Johns Hopkins University
    • Matt McGue Ph.D. - University of Minnesota
    • Michael Neale Ph.D. - Virginia Commonwealth University
    • J Michael Oakes Ph.D. - University of Minnesota
    • Susan Persky Ph.D. - National Human Genome Research Institute
    • Bret Rutherford MD - Columbia University
    • William Shadish Ph.D. - University of California, Merced
    • Dylan Small, Ph.D. - University of Pennsylvania
    • Diana Thomas Ph.D. - Montclair State University
    • David Todem Ph.D. - Michigan State University
    • May Wang Ph.D. - University of California, LA
    • Douglas Weed, MD, Ph.D. - DLW Consulting Services, LLC
    • Olivia Affuso Ph.D. - UAB
    • David B. Allison, Ph.D. - UAB
    • Andrew Brown Ph.D. - UAB
    • Emily Dhurandhar Ph.D. - UAB
    • José R Fernández Ph.D. - UAB
    • Kevin Fontaine Ph.D. - UAB
    • W. Timothy Garvey MD - UAB
    • Emily Levitan ScD - UAB
    • Gregory Pavela Ph.D. - UAB
    • Bisakha Pia Sen Ph.D. - UAB
    • David Redden Ph.D. - UAB
    • Hemant K Tiwari Ph.D. - UAB
  • Contact

    Elizabeth W. Smith, MPA, RDN, LDN

    Program Manager II
    Chief Administrative Officer
    UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center
    Phone: (205) 975-9675
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


We would like to thank our sponsors for their support: National Institutes of Health & Office of Energetics.

NIH LogoNIH Disclaimer: This material is based upon work supported by the National Institutes of Health under Grant No. (R25HL124208). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Institutes of Health.